Twelve of Israel’s top ethnic musicians are working together to bring the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic roots of Israeli music back to life in the Debka Fantasia.

As a child living in Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee, Israeli musician Yisrael Borochov grew up listening to the music of numerous ethnic groups. It was his dream to find a way to combine these disparate musical styles into a new kind of music.

Today, as one of the country’s most talented ethnic musicians, that’s exactly what he has done through a new work, the Debka Fantasia.

Israeli debka music was written from the 1920s to the 1950s, when the Russian and European new immigrant pioneers aspired to create a local musical heritage. Hearing and loving Bedouin music, they blended their own music with its melodies. Seventy years later, the idea has been revived.

To help him on his way, Borochov, the artistic director and founder of the Debka Fantasia, recruited Omer Avital, the New York-based jazz musician of Third World Love. The two collaborated on new arrangements for the folk tunes upon which they had been raised. The next step was to engage a surprising mix of world-class musicians to bring those arrangements to life and celebrate the multi-cultural, richness of Israeli society.

Since last year, when the production opened to rave reviews at the Jerusalem Festival, Debka Fantasia continues to perform throughout Israel, reaching audiences that span the generations.